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Worldworx Travel> Safety> Europe> Norway

Safety Travel Safety: Europe: Norway

Norway: Kingdom of Norway
Capital: Oslo
Population: 4,525,116
Currency: Norwegian krone (NOK)
Languages: Norwegian (official). note: small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 86% (state church), other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, other 1%, none and unknown 10% (1997)
Borders: Finland 729 km, Sweden 1,619 km, Russia 196 km

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Norway is a highly developed stable democracy with a modern economy. The cost of living in Norway is high and tourist facilities are well developed and widely available. Tourism to Norway is increasing and outdoor activities are popular. English is a popular second language in Norway. Additional information about Norway is available at http://www.usa.no/.

SAFETY AND SECURITY ^
Norway remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Norway's open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.

CRIME ^
Norway has a relatively low crime rate. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property. Residential burglaries, auto theft, and vandalism to parked cars can also occur. Most high-end value vehicles, especially in Oslo, have visible alarm system indicators to discourage joy riders or thieves. Persons who appear affluent or disoriented may become targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers, especially during the peak tourist seasons (May-September). Thieves frequently target tourists in hotels, particularly lobby/reception and restaurant areas. Often such thieves work in pairs, and use distraction as a method to steal purses or briefcases. While passports are frequently stolen in the course of these thefts money, credit cards and jewelry are the actual objects of interest. In some cases stolen passports are recovered. Violent crime, although rare, occurs and appears to be increasing. Some thieves or burglars may have weapons. The phone number for the police in Norway is 112.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Norway's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Norway are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

All controlled substances are prohibited in Norway. The possession of even small amounts of drugs (e.g. marijuana, hashish) can result in arrest in Norway. If drugs or controlled substances are discovered upon one's arrival in Norway, the result can be a charge of importation, a more serious crime than simple possession. Penalties usually include detention, a hefty fine and deportation, usually back to the United States.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities are widely available and of high quality, but may be limited outside the larger urban areas. The remote and sparse populations in northern Norway, and the dependency on ferries to cross fjords of western Norway, may affect transportation and ready access to medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo maintains a list of emergency clinics in major cities.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Norway is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of roadside assistance: Fair

Public transportation in Norway is generally safe and the maintenance and condition of urban roads are generally good. Rural road conditions are fair, and the availability of roadside assistance is limited. The roadway system beyond Oslo's limits and other major cities tends to be simple two-lane roads. In mountainous areas of Norway, the roads also tend to be narrow and winding and there are many tunnels. The northerly latitude can also cause road conditions to vary greatly depending on weather and time of year. Many mountain roads are closed due to snow from late fall to late spring. The use of winter tires is mandatory on all motor vehicles from November to April.

Norwegian law requires that drivers always use their vehicle headlights when driving. Norwegian law also requires drivers to yield to vehicles coming from the right. In some, but not all, instances major roads with �right of way� are marked. Seatbelts are mandatory for drivers and passengers.

Norway has some of the strictest laws in Europe concerning driving under the influence of alcohol and those laws proscribe heavy penalties for those convicted of even a low blood alcohol level. Frequent road checks with mandatory breathalyzer tests and the promise of stiff jail sentences encourage alcohol-free driving. The maximum legal blood alcohol content level for driving a car in Norway is 0.2 per cent.

Automatic cameras placed by the police along roadways help to maintain speed limits, which are often lower than in other European countries.

For specific information concerning Norwegian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Norwegian Tourist Board office located at P.O. Box 4649, Grand Central Station, New York, New York 10163-4649 (Tel.: 212-885-9700; fax � 212/885-9710) or visit their website on the Internet at http://www.norway.org/travel.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Norway's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Norway's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229 -4801.

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Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

September 17, 2004

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